24 October 2018

  |  CBI Scotland

Press release

Scotland must embrace AI and automation to take on the future with confidence - CBI Scotland

Today's AI and automation event brought a range of stakeholders together to discuss how to futureproof Scotland's economy. 

Scotland must embrace AI and automation to take on the future with confidence - CBI Scotland

At an event in Edinburgh, CBI Scotland joined forces with the University of Edinburgh and Trade, Investment and Innovation Minister Ivan McKee to show how embracing AI and automation can futureproof Scotland’s economy and make it a force to be reckoned with on the world stage.

Held at the University’s brand-new Bayes Centre for world-class data-science and artificial intelligence, the event brought together representatives from academia, government and the private sector to discuss how leading-edge data science and artificial intelligence can revolutionise workplaces across Scotland’s business community. 

Speaking at the event, Ivan McKee, Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation said:

“Scotland is well placed to be a global leader in the development of artificial intelligence and other digital technologies. These emerging trends present exciting opportunities for Scotland and can be a key driver for growth and productivity.

“To support their growth the Scottish Government has committed £48 million to a National Manufacturing Institute for Scotland to help accelerate innovation by enabling manufacturing companies to trial and test new processes, applications and technologies such as automation.”

CBI Scotland Director Tracy Black said:

“We’re delighted to be working with partners in business, government and the education sector to promote a real culture of innovation here in Scotland. By better understanding how data science and artificial intelligence can transform business offerings, we can put Scottish companies on the front foot when it comes to outcompeting their international rivals.

“Today’s event is a great opportunity to showcase the brilliant initiatives being undertaken by Edinburgh University and some of Scotland’s most forward-thinking companies. But while there are huge positives to the technology revolution, we must deal sensitively with how that will impact workplaces. We need to both understand the opportunities and risks, while ensuring that a culture of adoption is matched with a strategy for imbedding good practice.”

Professor Charlie Jeffery, Senior Vice-Principal, University of Edinburgh said:

“Today’s event comes as the University of Edinburgh embarks on an ambitious set of industry engagement targets through our involvement in the City Region Deal. Working with partners, we aim to increase data skills within the workforce and tackle challenges across industry and society through data-driven innovation.

“It’s vitally important that we discuss the opportunities and challenges of AI and automation in the emerging data economy, so I’m delighted to host CBI Scotland in our new Bayes Centre, where much of our data-driven innovation activity will take place.”

AI is an umbrella term that isn’t always clear to most people and simply describe technology that exhibits behaviours that appear intelligent and autonomous. From predictive text to deep neural networks, AI is an evolution in computing and the way we look at data. From chatbots to intelligent recommendations, the event focused on unpacking complex terminology and showing a range of practical ways that AI technology could be used by businesses in Scotland.

On the issue of automation, the discussion centred on both the positive contribution that automation can make to improving productivity and the need to ensure that Scotland adopts a partnership approach to technological change in the workplace that involves consultation between employers, workers and other major stakeholders.

For more on CBI Scotland’s work on technological change in the workplace, please read our joint letter to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, written in partnership with the STUC, ahead of the Programme for Government.

Keynote speakers at the event included:

  • Ivan McKee MSP, Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation, Scottish Government
  • Sana Khareghani, Head of the Office of AI, BEIS/DCMS, UK Government